History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we made today. — Henry Ford

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Some Wars in Victoria's Reign

If you were to hear all the great and important things which have happened during this, the longest and most glorious reign in English history, it would take a very long time and a much bigger volume than this is now to tell you about them. There have been so many great artists, writers, scientists, statesmen, inventors, and discoverers that the last half of the nineteenth century is often called the Victorian Age.

Since Victoria has been on the throne of Great Britain, there have been many disturbances. When she began her reign, the people who had been suffering from hunger wanted some of the laws changed. The reformers got up a charter, which they said had been signed by five million people, and, marching into London, they rolled it into Parliament in a tub.

The demands of the Chartists, as the charter-signers were called, frightened the people, and many took upon themselves the office of policeman to keep the mob in order. The changes the Chartists had asked for, although not granted then, were gradually brought about by a few great statesmen, such as the ministers already named, and Wilberforce, Brougham, Cobden, and Bright.

Changes were made in corn, navigation, and trade laws; for Great Britain now has free trade; that is, goods are brought into the country without the payment of duty.

Queen Victoria has always taken a lively interest in all state matters, and has in many cases felt sorry for the numerous wars fought during her reign. Among these are several wars in Afghanistan, fought either against the natives or against the Russians, who quarrelled with the British about the frontier.

Then there have been a number of wars with the Chinese. The first of these wars is, I am sorry to say, not to the credit of the British; for they forced the Chinese to let them have the island of Hong Kong, so as to sell all the opium they wanted to the natives, for whom it is even worse than rum. In another war, an English general, who is generally known as "Chinese Gordon," put down a Chinese rebellion, and in reward received from the emperor a mandarin's yellow gown and some gay peacock feathers, these being among the Chinese, like the Order of the Garter among the English, a mark of especial honour.

In India the British waged two wars against the Sikhs, defeated them, and took possession of their territory, the Punjab. Next they fought against the Burmese, and took possession of Lower Burma. In 1857 broke out the terrible "Indian Mutiny," or the revolt of the sepoys. These sepoys were native soldiers who had been trained to fight by British officers. When new rifles were introduced, and they had to use greased cartridges, the sepoys fancied that the British wanted to make them do what their religion forbade; that is to say, touch grease taken from their sacred animal, the cow, or from the hog, an animal the least contact with which, they fancied, made them unfit to enter heaven.

The officers tried to pacify the men by telling them that they could either grease the cartridges themselves with anything they pleased, or use other guns; but it was too late. The revolt spread from Meerut to Delhi, Cawnpore, and Lucknow. Everywhere the British were killed without mercy, and at Cawnpore men, women, and children were cruelly butchered and cast into a well, after they had heroically defended themselves for many a day.

Memorial Well, Cawnpore.

A brave general named Havelock fought like a tiger to reach Cawnpore in time to save his countrymen; but he got there too late. In spite of the awful heat, he next hurried on to Lucknow, where he found the English still alive. But there were so many women and children that he could not fight his way out with them. He therefore joined them in their heroic resistance, which was kept up until a brave Scotchman named Campbell came marching to the rescue, just as one of the women had dreamed.


When the English heard the Scotch bagpipes in the distance, playing "The Campbells are Coming," they almost died of joy. Lucknow was relieved; but Havelock, worn out by his heroic exertions, soon breathed his last. The mutiny was put down, and India was taken away from the East India Company and placed under the rule of the queen.

Since then there have been a few other revolts, which have quickly been put down. But railways, telegraphs, schools, and colleges are making rapid changes in India, where there are more than two hundred million people, speaking many different languages, practising many religions, but all subject to Victoria, who was crowned Empress of India in 1877.

Great Britain also fought one war in Europe, against Russia—a war of which you will hear a great deal. It is called the "Crimean War," and it was during this contest that, owing to a mistaken order, the Light Brigade made the gallant charge at Balaklava (1854). Their prompt obedience, their courage, and the death of nearly the whole company, have made them for ever famous. If you want to hear what dangers they braved, you had better read Tennyson's poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," and then you will see why every one admires them.


While the British soldiers were making their names famous in the Crimean War, an Englishwoman, Florence Nightingale, nursed the sick and the dying with such devotion that the men kissed her shadow on the wall as she passed by. Thanks to her exertions, and to those of the kind nurses whom she directed, many lives were saved, and since then hospitals for wounded soldiers have been much improved,

British Empire 1880


Front Matter

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee